Monday, May 4, 2009


(San Francisco Exhibit)

Ah! Ooh! Amazing! Visceral!Dazzling!Unexpected! Elaborate!Humorous! Grotesque?... words that have described the work of Chicago born Artist,fashion designer and performer Nick Cave. No matter what adjective may come to each individual's mind as they explore this artist's work, there is no denying his wizardly ability to inspire an emotional reaction.

(Chicago exhibit)

Cave is also the current chairman of the fashion department at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I first learned about this fantastic artist through one of my favorite blogs, House Of Beauty And Culture aka HOBAC, an Interior Decorator in the U.K. and extremely talented and entertaining blogger with an outside the box sense of art and style. Since then, I've become a big fan of Nick Cave's artwork.

(Jack Shaiman Gallery New York City)

Cave's latest exhibition titled "Meet me at the center of the earth" is currently at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California through July 5, 2009. A definite must see.

It's a collection of colorful scavenged textured materials and shiny found thrift store objects collected creating one of a kind costumes that many art critics have described as a combination of ethnic ritualistic costumes infused with haute couture. The result, "SoundSuits".

(Cave pictured here with his wearable soundsuits)

When asked about the history for the creation of the "Sound Suits", Cave explains that the evolution of the art itself sort of has multiple layers to its meaning, however the nemesis for the name was behind the Rodney King incident which became the launching moment that inspired it's creation. He categorizes his work as wearable sculptures.

Reminiscent of African ceremonial costumes, yet similarly connected to haute couture, Cave’s Soundsuits are physical manifestations of his energy.

He has said, ‘I believe that the familiar must move towards the fantastic. I want to evoke feelings that are unnamed, that aren’t realized except in dreams.’ Thus, through the acts of collecting and reconfiguring, Cave explores and reiterates cultural, ritualistic and ceremonial concepts.

For me, his arrangement of the bold colors on many of his works are just reminiscent of a Faberge egg. Multi colored and faceted.

(soundsuit 2009 collection- Mixed Media)


Performance artist Nick Cave was born February 4, 1959 in Jefferson City, Missouri. His mother, Sharon, raised him and his seven brothers. Cave seemed to take after his great grandfather, who was a poet and painter.

At George Washington Carver School in Fulton, Missouri and at West Junior High School, Cave, influenced by Michael Jackson, showed performance and artistic ability. Graduating from Hickman High School in 1977, he enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute where he continued to express himself through both visual art and dance. In 1979, Cave met Alvin Ailey and spent that summer and several summers thereafter in New York City studying with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1981, he designed displays for Macy's Department Store and practiced professionally as a high fashion clothing designer, artist and dancer. Cave earned his M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1988.

Joining the faculty of the Art Institute of Chicago immediately after graduation, Cave has built a reputation as an educator and performance artist, especially with his ritualistic "Soundsuits."

Cave explains the suits are a ritualism of his feelings about the isolation and insulation attendant to being a black male in America.

The details on this sculpture is spectacular.

Just poke enough holes for me to see and breathe and I'm off to Fashion week.

This beauty reminds me of a comment posted in the San Francisco Chronicle about his work.."somewhere, Doctor Seuss is looking down with a smile".

Many of these Soundsuits are made with a combination of fabric and human hair. The only other time I heard of the hair ideas was from Chris March of Project Runway's season 4.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Oh, wow. Thanks for this almost exhaustive coverage, because I had NO idea! You've got me wanting to read more and more about him and his work.